Archive for Rated PG-13

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PodCastle 648: The Beast Weeps with One Eye


The Beast Weeps with One Eye

By Morgan Al-Moor

After three days of breathless escape across the grasslands and no less than thirty of our people lost, the waters of the Nyamba river finally sparkled before my weary eyes. Every soul among the survivors — the last of the Bjebu — sobbed with joy, and even the faithless murmured their thanks to the Great Elders from between dry lips.

We dropped to our knees at the riverbank, panting like a herd of mad oxen. Some threw themselves into the water, swallowing and gasping. Others rolled on their backs, drenched in sweat and dust. Mkiwa, our chief huntress, climbed the great tree and perched above us, her spear thrust forth, the lion’s pelt hugging her shoulders.

I washed my face and arms in the cold water. Dirt had dyed my crimson khanga brown, so I rinsed its edges and tossed the veil around my head. I uttered a short prayer for those who had fallen along the road.

The grasslands stretched around us, bathed in the early rays of dawn — a rippling ocean of green in the fresh wind. The blue mountains guarded the horizon, gathering around their highest peak — Mount Wawazee, the abode of the Elders. I caught a breath of the dewy air. Deer grazed in the shadow of a far tree, oblivious to our clamor.

“Can we rest yet, High Sister?” asked one farmer.

“Are we safe yet, High Sister?” whispered one hunter. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 642: In a Field of Bone-Bonnets

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


In a Field of Bone-Bonnets

Aimee Picchi

The hut shuffled to face the sunrise, a habit that pleased its old witch, and kindled the fire in its hearth for her morning tea.

The witch groaned as she wobbled from her bed and picked up a ragged note from the floor. The scrap had been slipped under the hut’s door in the middle of the night while the witch had snored in her feather bed. During the note’s delivery, the hut had remained still because the witch had told it many years ago that her customers were scared enough already and might be frightened off if a giant chicken-footed hut suddenly moved.

The witch and the hut both knew what the note would say. The messages were always the same, even if the words were different.

“Another woman needs my help.” The witch wheezed as she reached for her bag of medicines.

The ever-glowing skulls strung by the hut’s doorway clattered. You need to rest.

“My dearest hut, I must continue with my work until I can no longer. Stoke your fires at dusk. That’s when I will return.”

As she reached for her walking stick, she gave the hut’s central beam a pat.

The hut watched with worry as she limped into the woods in search of the young woman who had written the note and crept to the hut’s door in the middle of the night.

As the sun arced across the sky, the hut rotated on its chicken feet to follow the warmth. It opened its shutters and aired its insides, then closed the shutters when the afternoon air grew hot and humid.

As the sun was setting, the old woman stumped back, her breathing labored. Fatigue lined her face, and she stepped inside unsteadily.

You are too old to keep doing this, the hut clattered. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 640: Mist Songs of Delhi

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Mist Songs of Delhi

By Sid Jain

Rajaji had listened to three songs of the deceased that morning. He couldn’t help himself. Whenever he walked past a flickering portrait floating in the air — static, sanguine, and phosphorescent — the urge to reach out and touch the cloud with his fingers was more than he could resist. The cloud portrait would unspool itself into the departed’s soul song and fill the air around Rajaji with the lilting music of their lives.

The last of those three songs had left Rajaji in a heavy stupor. The voice of the departed sang but three lines in Urdu. The translation into Hindi seized some beauty as tax, but the words thundered in Rajaji’s heart in all the seven languages he knew:

I tolerated his passing as he had taken Hindustan as his second wife,

But my hummingbird had not yet learnt to fly when you clipped her wings.

O Tyrant, what sin did I commit that you saved me for last?

They rarely told the life’s story of the subject as if they were epic poems. No, most soulsongs captured a sliver of the lives, a representative snippet that encapsulated the life and times of those lucky enough to be turned into song by the Goddesses of Raagas.

And they were lucky. Seekers made pilgrimage from around the world to the temples of music in Delhi and Ajanta and even the little one in Calcutta. Germanic Persians, Frankish Egyptians, and some even traveling over ocean and continent from the Americas, hoping — praying — that they reach the temples still alive and with stories remarkable enough to be granted the gift of eternal music. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 639: Kiki Hernández Beats the Devil

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

The destinies of two women — one, a soldier; the other, a princess — become intertwined in C. L. Clark’s debut, The Unbroken. This is a story about war, betrayal, intrigue, and some truly sexy fight scenes in a desert kingdom inspired by North Africa. The cover art was released on io9 in July. Check out this incredible debut by PodCastle‘s co-editor!

You can pre-order The Unbroken by C. L. Clark now!


Kiki Hernández Beats the Devil

By Samantha Mills

Kiki Hernández, rock legend of the Southwest, had seven devils on her tail.

They scurried through the roadside scrub, not even trying to sneak. She could hear their scrabble-claws and clacker-tails, their dripping maws and teeth. If they were trying to round her up for a crossroad deal-making, they were going about it all wrong.

That’s what happened when devils got hungry. They made mistakes.

Kiki hummed as she walked, watching eddies of dust form tornadoes on the road ahead. It was a swagger of a walk, born of a perfect record: Kiki 72, Devils 0. She would have been bored, if she hadn’t been so eager for an encore.

“Come on out!” she hollered.

They tumbled forth in a gray-green tangle of many-jointed limbs, an acrid smell preceding them: sulphur and grave dirt and candy apples stuffed with razorblades. Their voices tangled like a nest of snakes: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you vengeful? Are you sad?

For a moment she felt it—the thirst like three weeks eating salted pork, the grief that could only end in retaliation—and then Kiki popped open her molded-plastic carrying case and pulled out her guitar: Mona Lisa. (Continue Reading…)